We always meet for 10 minutes in the morning to summarize what we did the previous day and what we're doing today. We always work to empathize deeply with the end user. We always work in a disciplined way to make sure that our communication amongst the team and with our customers is clear, concise, and timely. To elaborate on communication a bit ... we have a fierce rigor in how we communicate. Communication is a huge part of the design process. We take the extra time to accept ownership of ambiguous situations in emails, on phone calls, in legal contracts, etc. so that we can make these situations unambiguous or at least acknowledge what's ambiguous.
How do you explain to clients your design process?
This is a great question. It's important to set expectations with clients and have well crafted communication with your clients even before the work with the client is approved.
We tell clients that we pen sketch and rapid ideate, particularly in the early phases of a project. We let clients know that we may move from a pen sketch to an xcode or HTML prototype or paper prototype so that we can test the designs early and often. We let clients know that we start every project with a kick off meeting and we specifically ask the client for their commitment to give us a recap meeting a week after the project has ended so that we can learn what worked and what did not work. We let clients know in advance that the recap meetings are for us but that our clients tend to get value from them too.
We do all this (and a lot more) in our early discovery meetings with potential clients and again in the proposal presentations with the clients.
What are the main problems that you encounter when showing sketches to clients?
With all the clients we've shown sketches to we have received zero push back from clients regarding the pen sketch format.
Clients (everyone) understands a pen sketch. Everyone has created pen sketches themselves at some point in their lives. They know a sketch is not the final design. (To their disappointment clients do confuse digital wireframes with final designs at times.) Clients know that it doesn't make sense to judge fonts and colors in a pen sketch. They know that layout proportions aren't final in a pen sketch.
If clients know pen sketches are coming, if they can see them clearly with screen sharing tools, if they can reference them easily because they are well numbered, then clients don't have hang ups with pen sketching.
What are your tools of the trade and why do you recommend them?
The most important tactic for UX Sketching is to not use pencils. Pencils smear easily. They lack contrast. And, most importantly, pencils have an "undo" feature (the eraser). An important tenant of ours at 29th Drive is to avoid undo features at all costs, no matter if it's an eraser or Command+Z.
Any readers out there still using pencils to sketch, trust me, switch to pen. It'll force you to think quickly and critically while sketching. It will make your sketches more daring. And, pens can be layered with design markers and other pen colors without smearing.
The second most important tool of the trade is plain blank 8.5x11 printer paper. Don't use grid paper or dot paper or "interface design" paper that has pre-printer browser or mobile viewport outlines. The grid and dot papers make ideas rigid and they add unneeded noise to the sketch, particularly when the sketches are photographed or scanned. Pre-printed boxes and guides just get in the way of the very fast flow you intend to enter when sketching.
What can you tell us about Inkwell and your Webinars?
We get into the details of UX sketch tools and rapid ideation processes in a free UX Sketch webinar that we host. There's a rich Q&A session at the end of the webinars (we always run long with Q&A).
The next webinar is July 16th 2013, you can register here, and we host them once a month. If it's past July 16th 2013 as you're reading this, you can register for any of the webinars on our product site www.inkwell.io.
Maybe I should have talked about Inkwell first. We designers spend so much money on software and computer hardware, we thought it'd be fun to design, manufacture, and sell a sketch kit made specifically for designers. So we did just that. We launched Inkwell in March of 2013.
Inkwell is a handmade sketch kit created specifically for web and app designers, filled with carefully curated tools and tips. We're selling Inkwells around the world to all kinds of UX/UI designers. The in house designers at Hershey's Chocolates bought Inkwells. Josh Brewer, the lead designer at Twitter bought an Inkwell. Drew Wilson asked us to present Inkwell at his Valiocon earlier this month.
The motto of Inkwell is "Pen Before Pixel". It's been a lot of fun to be a tiny tiny part of a movement to get back to our collective design roots and commitment to rapid ideation—even as we design software.
Do you use any particular App to showcase your sketches? (i.e. POP http://popapp.in/ )
We do. We collaborate in real time with our remote clients or designers using the iPevo document camera. We recommend this document camera. We send them to our clients and we use them even when everyone is local and in the same room. In the photo below, you can see our lead designer, Jen sharing her sketches with others in our conference room. The iPevo saves us from all huddling around Jen's shoulder as she presents her ideas.
Tune in to the next Webinar that will take place on July 16th 2013.
You can register HERE.
Inkwell hosts it's webinars once a month. If it's past July 16th 2013 as you're reading this, you can register for any of the webinars on our product site www.inkwell.io